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MEPP: the European Union, Saudi Arabia, the Arab League, in Cooperation With Egypt and Jordan, Launch the Peace Day Effort for Middle East Peace, and Invite the World to Join


On Monday, the European Union, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the League of Arab States, in cooperation with the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, launched an effort to reinvigorate the peace process in the Middle East. They convened in this regard a ministerial meeting at the UN headquarters in New York, on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, in the presence of almost fifty Foreign Ministers from around the world.

This effort seeks to produce a “Peace Supporting Package” that will maximize peace dividends for the Palestinians and Israelis once they reach a peace agreement. It seeks to produce detailed programmes and contributions, conditional upon achieving a final status agreement, that will support the peace, and ensure that all peoples of the region reap its benefits. The effort seeks to ensure that Peace Day is a day of opportunity and promise, thus incentivizing earnest efforts to reach it.

Israeli-Palestinian peace continues to be elusive. Decades since the peace process was launched in Madrid in 1991, there are no real horizons for achieving the Two-State Solution. Signed agreements, including the Oslo accords, have not been fully honoured. The occupation continues and with it come a number of complications and difficulties that lead the parties further away from a possible agreement. The situation on the ground is proving to be untenable and the status quo is becoming impossible to accept, all the more in an international situation plagued with conflicts. Ignoring the need to revitalize the peace process is neither helpful to the parties nor to the present and future of the Middle East.

The renewed effort is based on the urgent need to preserve the Two-State Solution ensuring a viable sovereign independent and contiguous Palestinian state based on the 4 June 1967 lines; respect for international law, including international humanitarian law and human rights; respect for and full implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) related to the Palestinian question, most recently UNSCR 2334, condemning all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, and stipulating that no changes will be recognized to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations; and upholding unchanged the Status Quo of Jerusalem’s Holy Sites, with emphasis on the Hashemite Custodianship.

The need to revitalize a meaningful peace process to achieve the Two-State Solution, in accordance with international law, UNSC resolutions, the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative and the 2013 EU peace supporting offer cannot be overemphasized. The alternative is further deterioration that will threaten regional and international security.

The Peace Day Effort builds, among others, on the Arab Peace Initiative (API), which was adopted by the Arab States to lay out their vision for a comprehensive regional peace and its terms and requirements. Predicated on the full withdrawal from all Palestinian and Arab territories occupied since 1967 in exchange for full normalization, the API was later endorsed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and welcomed by the European Union and the United Nations. The Peace Day Effort also builds on the 2013 EU offer to provide an “unprecedented package of political, security and economic support” to both parties in the context of a final status agreement.

The Peace Day Effort aims at elaborating the benefits of the API and the European peace supporting package and enlisting all existing and potential international efforts. The Peace Day Effort is open to all parties ready to make substantive contributions to it.

On this basis the initiators of this effort aim to produce a comprehensive “Peace Supporting Package.” This package is to be rolled out immediately after “Peace Day,” when the parties reach a peace agreement on the basis of the Two-State Solution. Such a wide-ranging package will help sustain the peace, and will produce peace dividends for all.

This Peace Day Effort does not aim to provide additional details to the needed bilateral Israeli-Palestinian agreement beyond the internationally agreed parameters, as these details are to be negotiated between the parties. The Peace Day Effort entails envisaging what an Israeli-Palestinian peace would mean for relations in the Middle East region and beyond; it is not a substitute for the needed and long overdue peace process. While it will elaborate the potential benefits and dividends of peace in various areas, it will be based entirely on the respect for the principle that all such benefits can only materialise on Peace Day, not prior to it or as a prelude to it.

During this meeting, the conveners launched Working Groups charged with elaborating the components of the comprehensive ”Peace Supporting Package”. All participants were invited to contribute to the Working Groups.

The Working Groups will focus on identifying substantive elements of the “Peace Supporting Package”. They will convene in principle at Special Envoy or Ambassadorial level and will benefit from input by experts. Their work will be coordinated by the co-chairs. The Working Groups will organize conferences, symposia, and studies to produce detailed realistic and feasible components of the “Peace Supporting Package”.

The Working Groups established today are:

  • Political and Security Working Group, focusing on developing an outline of potential post-peace regional, political and security cooperation mechanisms;
  • an Economic and Environmental Working Group, focusing on developing proposals for economic cooperation, including in the areas of trade, investment, innovation, transport infrastructure, natural resources, as well as climate change and the environment; and
  • Human Dimension Working Group, focusing on developing proposals for cooperation in humanitarian, inter-cultural, and human security issues as stipulated by UNGA Resolution 66/290.

The participants in the Peace Day Effort will determine when the work of the Working Groups has progressed sufficiently to combine the various contributions into the “Peace Supporting Package.” Progress will be assessed every three months. The first assessment will take place in December 2023. The aim is for the Working Groups to conclude their work and to have the “Peace Supporting Package” ready for presentation by September 2024. Nevertheless, the contributors to the Peace Day Effort then will assess whether the Working Groups have concluded their work, or if they will need to continue. The conveners have agreed on mechanisms to engage separately, to the maximum extent, with the Palestinians and Israelis.

It is imperative to reverse negative trends and to safeguard the prospect for peace. Therefore, the initiators urge all to work for halting unilateral measures that undermine the Two-State Solution, including settlement activities, confiscation of land, house evictions; halting of violence and incitement to violence; and ensuring respect for the historic status quo of Jerusalem’s Holy Sites, the role of the Hashemite Custodianship, as well as the mandate of the Islamic Waqf Department.

In parallel with the above, the initiators recall the urgency of credible negotiations to end the conflict and achieve peace within a clear timeline. In addition, the conveners call on all to support Palestinian economic development and overcome all obstacles in that regard, including through the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC).

Unless the viability of the Two-State Solution is preserved, and negotiations to achieve it start, the prospects for peace will further diminish, and conflict will characterize the future of the region as much as it has marked its past. The Peace Day Effort cannot by itself achieve peace, but it can contribute a new era of prosperity, achievement and cooperation among all countries and peoples of the region. We hope you will all join us in this necessary endeavour.

Source: EEAS News

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